Canine parvovirus was first discovered in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia in the late 1970s. Yet, within two years it had spread worldwide, killing countless dogs and infecting many more.

Certainly, canine parvovirus (AKA parvo, CPV or CPV2) is highly contagious. It spreads from canine to canine via direct or indirect contact with their faeces.

While there has been some research into the existence of parvo in Australia, it is now believed that early studies underestimated the prevalence. A 2018 study by the University of Sydney estimates there are approximately 20,000 cases annually in Australia, with a euthanasia rate of 41%.

The big issue

According to a media release issued by the University of Sydney, in spite of developments in vaccination technology parvo remains a significant cause of disease and death in dogs across Australia.

Dr Mark Kelman, a veterinarian and PhD candidate at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science, says, “CPV can kill puppies, so is an especially tragic disease, and most people are unaware that this is a big issue nationally.”

The largest numbers of parvo cases have been identified in rural and remote areas of the country. Furthermore, in urban settings, canine parvovirus was more commonly seen in the outer suburbs of the city and in lower socioeconomic areas.

Indeed, pet professionals can play an important role in helping to make more pet owners aware of canine parvovirus, the signs and what they can do to prevent it.

Symptoms of canine parvovirus

Vet West reports that dogs that become infected with parvo will typically show signs of illness within 7-10 days. Symptoms include:

  • sudden onset of bloody diarrhoea,
  • lethargy,
  • unwillingness to eat
  • repeated episodes of vomiting

While parvo is most common in puppies, dogs can be infected at any age. Furthermore, the symptoms can mimic other canine diseases, making the diagnosis challenging.

Join the crusade to make parvo history

Paws For A Purpose has a goal of eradicating parvo. It reports that in Australia, a dog catches parvo approximately every 24 minutes! That’s a staggering number of cases—particularly given we know that almost half of the dogs that contract parvo will die as a result.

Certainly, we don’t want pet owners to worry unnecessarily. However, it is those owners whose dogs are not fully vaccinated that face the greatest likelihood. What’s more, the risk is even greater for those who live in lower socioeconomic areas of a city or in a rural or remote region.

Vets and animal volunteers, in particular those who operate in high-risk or ‘red zone’ areas, are invited to team up with Paws For A Purpose in its fight to stamp out parvo. As part of its #makeparvohistory campaign, Paws For A Purpose is providing vaccines for those animals that need it most.

4 simple ways to help stop canine parvovirus

There are a myriad ways people working in the pet or animal welfare industry can do their bit to help stop the spread of parvo. Here are a few easy ways to lend a hand.

1. Set up a donation box. All funds donated to Paws For A Purpose contribute towards its vaccination program and ongoing research at the University of Sydney.

2. Raise awareness of the need for vaccinations. Talk to your clients to ensure their dog is fully vaccinated. Highlight the reasons why vaccinations are so important and encourage people living in high-risk areas to have their dogs vaccinated on time.

3. Get your hands on some Premium Beef Treats. Whether you’re a vet, a pet shop, a dog walker or trainer, why not order some Paws For A Purpose Premium Beef Treats to resell to your clients? The proceeds help fund all the work being done to protect puppies against parvo. For details on pricing email

4. Volunteer your time and skills. If you’re super keen to join the fight to make parvo history, reach out to Paws For A Purpose and offer your expertise.

Canine parvovirus: key points

Parvo has been around since the late 1970 but it appears the number of cases has been underestimated.

Most pet owners are unaware of parvo and how serious a disease it is.

Typically, parvo is more prevalent in rural and remote areas, as well as in lower socioeconomic areas.

Vaccination is key to preventing outbreaks and rising cases.


Information sources:

  • Wikipedia. Canine parvovirus.
  • Kelman M, Norris JM, Barrs VR, Ward MP. The geographic distribution and financial impact of canine parvovirus in Australia. Sept 2018. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.
  • Vet West. Parvovirus in dogs. Accessed online Nov 2020:
  • Paws For A Purpose
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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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